Scores killed as soldiers, SARS, JTF engage Boko Haram in Borno

SCORES of people were, on Sunday, killed in Maiduguri, when a combined efforts of army, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police and volunteer youths, popularly known as Civilian JTF successfully repelled an attempt by the Boko Haram terrorists to invade Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that the Boko Haram terrorists, who came through Molai village, outskirts of the city, forced a lot of residents of the area to flee.

It will be recalled that the incident which started at about 7.00 a.m. on Sunday, occurred barely one week after the last Sunday’s attack on Maiduguri and only two weeks to the February 14th general election.

A resident of the area, Mallam Garba Molai, said they were told by the soldier in the area to flee the area, as all the soldiers took position and engaged the terrorists in a fierce battle.

He said people were killed, including civilians with more casualties on the side of the insurgents, as the combined efforts of the military, civilian JTF and SARS, assisted by aerial bombardment by the Nigerian Air Force, successfully repelled them.

He said “Many insurgents were killed, including some civilian casualties, while two artilleries, vehicles, motorcycles and other armories were recovered.

“Many people had fled the area, except a few of us assisting the security operatives.”

A member of civilian JTF, Ibrahim Idi, who also took part in the operation, told the Nigerian Tribune on phone that “as I am talking to you, we just came back from Dalia village in pursuit of the fleeing terrorists. We killed a lot of them, while two artilleries, vehicles, motorcycles and many arms and ammunition were also recovered.”

He said “one of the insurgents who hid on the fence of Molai General Hospital was aiming soldiers, our members and civilians, but thank God, one resident of the area took him by surprise, came behind the fence and brought him down with his stick and our boys quickly went there and killed him.”

Another member of civilian JTF, Garba Mansur, who took part in the operation, said they received a call from their overall chairman that the insurgents were successfully repelled along Molai village along Maiduguri-Damboa road, outskirts of the city and that they were moving towards Dala Abuja Zannari area and that they quickly mobilised their members and moved to the area.

He said: “It was a hectic operation, as the military engaged them in a gun battle, assisted by our members, but when the insurgents started shooting Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG), the soldier asked us to start crawling; before we knew it, four of our members were killed.”

Speaking on the incident, Thomas Andrew, an elder in one of the churches in Maiduguri told the Nigerian Tribune that: “It was a pathetic situation for us, the common people, that our leaders have failed us. For me, I think this is the time our president, our representatives at the National Assembly and all well-meaning Nigerians to agree and come to terms with the reality of happenings in Borno State.

“Even if it means declaring a total state of emergency and allow the military to do their job properly, this is the time before it is too late.”

Elder Andrew, who could not attend church service as many other worshippers, told the Nigerian Tribune that he was not in the position to advise the authorities, particularly the president, but to him and considering what he had seen in the state, there was more to it than meet the eye, as the war against terrorism in Borno State was not yet uhuru if politics or its activities was not suspended for a while.

Residents of Molai quarters living along the battle lines, Nigerian Tribune learnt had since vacated their houses, as soldiers made way for them to flee, so as to avoid heavy casualty. The battle which is still ongoing as of the time of filing this report had residents crying to God for intervention.

It was gathered that sounds of gunshots had were heard all over the city with military artillery and jet fighters going round the city; though nobody knew the extent or how the battle formation was drawn, but there was hope that the security forces would succeed in repelling the insurgents.

Meanwhile, a Boko Haram suspect, who was arrested along Bakasi, close to the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) office in Maiduguri, dressed like a woman and wearing black gown had confessed to have sneaked into town to cause mischief.

Sources within the security operatives who spoke with Nigerian Tribune, said the suspect, Abubakar Kachallah, also revealed that about 20 of them had, on Saturday night, sneaked into town for different mission.

“When he was brought to us, he said they have attempted to attack Konduga 12 times, but did not succeed, as according to him, after several meetings among the leadership, it was agreed that whoever takes over Maiduguri or Konduga will become leader of the sect.

“He refused to say whether Shekau was still alive or not, but said he was ready to die, as he seemed to have no fear to tell us that they were simply obeying the commands of Allah, who also assured them of victory in this holy war.”

In a related development, a 70-year-old man, his grand daughter, one other girl and his ram were killed by a stray RPG in Zannari, Abuja Sheraton of Maisandari ward of Maiduguri metropolis.

A resident of the area said the stray RPG hit the old man sitting under a shade in front of his house with his animal when it struck the tree they were sitting under, killing him, his three-year-old grand daughter, her friend and one of his animals.